The AIBS Constitution, drafted in the 1950's, spoke to the need for the dozens of biological organizations invested in the research and advancement of the study of life to work together with unity. Sixty years later, biology has grown - and is now an incredibly rich community of hundreds of organizations, serving the needs of the hundreds of thousands of professionals - and still growing.
Following a period of incredibly rapid growth, we find ourselves entering a period of dynamic shape-shifting change. The questions posed for scientists today are increasingly large and unbounded by geographic, cultural, disciplinary and physical constraints. How we do our science, how we organize as scientists to share research and solve problems, and how we bring our knowledge to society to answer the complex questions before us today are all fundamentally changing.
These changes are necessarily compelling changes in our practice -- in the way we act as scientists professionally, as researchers and educators, and personally, as advocates and communicators. These boundary-pushing changes, are obviating all the mental models we hold about how we do our work and achieve our outcomes for society; and new scripts have to be written to bring our science to bear professionally and in the public forum for the 21st century. "Far past Science 2.0, we are evolving quickly toward the science of tomorrow and of future tomorrows--one of unforeseen possibilities--Science n.0." cites Susan Stafford, University of Minnesota, Chair of the AIBS Long Range Planning and Leadership in Biology Committees.
At the end of a multiyear long range and strategic planning process, this is where AIBS sees a critical role in support of leadership in the biological sciences.
In redefining this role, AIBS is adapting many of its programs and launching a new one, the Leadership in Biology program, that will effectively position AIBS to empower the community through collecting and reporting data about the forces that affect the biology community and catalyze change through building the communities' ability to respond effectively.
"As we examine the challenges we share as a community and seek ways to address those challenges, we need to think about how we might also need to adjust our support structure - our scientific societies, our academic departments, our venues for sharing our result - to maximize our ability to do great science in a new era." 2013 AIBS President Joseph Travis, Florida State University, has worked closely with AIBS staff in developing recent research. To that end, AIBS is launching its new 'Leadership in Biology' program this month to draw a clearer picture of the challenges and opportunities for the biological sciences.
Through this project, AIBS leaders and staff will connect with the leaders in our science to build a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the biological sciences in the 21st century. The conversations and insights gained will inform the responses to three key questions:
- In order for the life sciences to thrive, what opportunities are too great to miss?
- What transformations in practice and infrastructure need to take place to prepare biology to meet the needs of society?
- What challenges must be overcome to ensure our success?
AIBS has been working toward this outcome in recent years, having recently completed a focused study on trends in scholarly organizations. These topics were examined in depth at the 2012 and 2011 meetings of the AIBS Council and reported in reports published online and in BioScience magazine.
Entering a new phase of inquiry, AIBS leadership is actively reaching out to entrepreneurs, change agents, resource providers, and those individuals who have the greatest depth of knowledge about the issues and the field, to build a better understanding of the dynamics that will ensure the dialog leads to collaborative action on behalf of our scientific community.
"These exploratory interviews will launch this new program with a volume of data about our science - the community, resources, and issues -- that will help AIBS to chart a course with the community to affect the changes required by the 21st century. With this data, we will better be able to flesh out the complex landscape in which we advance our science in sufficient detail to ensure efficacy of effort." says Stafford.
In a robust and ongoing way, AIBS strives to advance its' mission: to listen; anticipate; advise; collaborate; and, when needed, lead efforts in the life sciences community to address scientific and societal challenges. These interviews are a first step in that direction.
Join AIBS leadership in discussing these issues at the 2013 Topics in Biology Leadership Event, took place December 6th in Washington DC.
Program Committee Chair
University of Minnesota
Program Committee Members
University of Maryland
Eric S. Nagy
University of Virginia
Steward T. A. Pickett
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies